Plymouth’s new Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) was formally opened on 5 February, coinciding with the start of national Sexual Violence Awareness Week. The facility, run by Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT), is a new, purpose-built environment that will provide support to people who have experienced rape or sexual assault.
The new Plymouth SARC provides improved 24-hour access to services for women, men and children who have been sexually assaulted. Services include immediate medical care, medical advice, crisis workers, forensic medical examination and onward referral to sexual health and independent sexual violence advisors (ISVAs).
The state-of-the-art adult forensic facility is complemented by a new website that provides clear advice, support and self-referral options for those who have experienced rape or sexual assault, which can be with or without the need for police involvement. There is also guidance for professionals from other organisations who may need to refer people to Plymouth SARC.
The new premises were formally opened by HM Deputy Lieutenant of Devon Brigadier Simon Young, who was joined by NHS staff, members of Plymouth City Council and representatives from other local organisations.
Referrals into SARC services from Plymouth have historically been low. NDHT believe that providing a new adult forensic facility, staffed by specially trained healthcare experts, enhancing the accessibility of the service and working together with local partners will help those who have experienced sexual assault access treatment, support and advice.
Darryn Allcorn, chief nurse at NDHT, said: “I hope that this new sexual assault referral centre is the start of a growing awareness amongst the Plymouth community of the role of a SARC and the services provided.
“With improved 24-hour access and a new facility, we are better equipped to provide excellent levels of medical care and support for anyone who needs us or refers others to us in future.”
Plymouth residents will be able to access the full range of SARC services by calling 0300 3034626 or visiting the website www.sarchelp.co.uk
Lyndsay Howell, Devon & Cornwall SARC manager, commented: “Devon and Cornwall SARCs are places where you can come and talk in total confidence about what has happened and receive care and support from understanding professionals. Our services are available for women, men and children.
“If you, or someone close to you, has been sexually assaulted, please contact us on our 24-hour helpline on 0300 3034626. You can also access support from the SARC website at www.sarchelp.co.uk”
Nikki Luffingham, director of commissioning health and justice south NHS England, said: “Sexual Assault Referral Centres provide a vital service supporting anyone affected by rape or sexual assault. Following a regional review, NHS England has commissioned new services. The new facility in Plymouth will provide discreet and confidential support 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Together with a new adult forensic facility, the centre will provide improved care for local people who may need to use a SARC.”
A Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) provides services to people who have experienced rape or sexual assault. Sexual Assault Referral Centres are designed to be comfortable and multi-functional, providing private space medical forensic examinations, as well as advice support and counselling services. SARCs have specialist staff that are trained to help people make informed decisions about what they want to do next.
The new Plymouth SARC is located at Hawthorne House (Hawthorne House, Darklake View, Estover, Plymouth, PL6 7TL).
Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust (NDHT) provides a full range of acute services and integrated health and social care services in northern Devon, with 3,000 staff serving a population of over 160,000. The Trust also provides various specialist services across the whole of Devon, including podiatry, sexual health services and the Devon & Cornwall Sexual Assault Referral Centres.